Ep #20: NASA's Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

NASA's Dawn mission just completed its science phase on June 30th, 2016. It is the only spacecraft to have orbited two different bodies in our solar system: the minor planet Ceres and the asteroid Vesta. What have we learned about these bodies?

Published by Tony Darnell on 11th Jul, 2016

On June 30th, 2016, NASA's Dawn mission completed its official mission and is now operating on extended time in orbit around the minor planet Ceres.

Dawn's goal is to characterize the conditions and processes of its earliest history by investigating in detail two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formation. Ceres and Vesta reside in the main asteroid belt, the extensive region between Mars and Jupiter, along with many other smaller bodies. Each followed a very different evolutionary path, constrained by the diversity of processes that operated during the first few million years of solar system evolution. When Dawn visits Ceres and Vesta, the spacecraft steps us back in solar system time.

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